Lazy 8’s

Don’t Be LAZY when practicing Lazy Eights!

The Lazy Eight is designed to show complete mastery of aircraft control at different air speeds, bank angles, and pitch angles.  Use of rudder and aileron is the key to master this maneuver, and elevator is also important (but rudder and aileron are more important).  Throughout this maneuver you will demonstrate to the Examiner your ability to keep the airplane coordinated while managing energy to end the maneuver at exactly the same airspeed and altitude you began at.

how to do lazy eights

Good News!

This is not a ground reference maneuver, this is a heading and altitude maneuver.  You need to end on the same heading and altitude you began at.  It IS a ground reference maneuver in that your best chance of completing this maneuver successfully requires you to be referencing points on the ground to know what part of the maneuver you are at.  You will want to pick out a point on the ground before you roll into the maneuver for your 45 degree point (1/4), 90 degree point (1/2), 135 degree point (3/4), and the last point will be a reference to a heading since you can’t see directly behind you in most airplanes (unless you are using a long interstate or some other feature that continues in a straight line behind you).

How to do it….

  • Step one is clear the area (clearing turns)
  • Get the airplane configured (flaps and gear up, cruising below Va (maneuvering speed), complete any pre-maneuver checklists required, and ensure you are stable (not fluctuating in speed or altitude)
  • Then like we said above, choose reference points so you’ll know what part of the maneuver you are on as you are looking outside (without having to reference the DG and draw your attention away from the window and to the panel)
  • (0/4) Begin to use a healthy amount of back pressure to begin pitching the nose up, while you use a small amount of aileron (and rudder to stay coordinated) to begin rolling to a 15 degree bank angle
  • (1/4) Here 45 degrees into the maneuver, you will have your max nose up pitch (around 15-17 degrees) and a bank angle of 15 degrees (note: you have been slowly increasing bank since starting the maneuver and should just be passing through 15 degrees of bank here, as you continue the maneuver to the halfway point (90 degrees) you will reach 30 degrees of bank).  As you continue into the second quarter of the maneuver you will start to let the nose come back down towards the horizon and you increase the bank angle towards 30 degrees.
  • (2/4) Congrats, you’re halfway done here (90 degrees) into the maneuver.  Here you will be at your slowest airspeed and pitch attitude should be level back with the horizon now. Leaving the halfway point (90 degrees) you will let the nose “slice” through the horizon and begin shallowing your bank angle back towards 15 degrees.
  • (3/4) 75% of the way done, now at your 135 degree point, you will be at your MAX nose down pitch for the maneuver (around 12-15 degrees), and rolling through 15 degrees of bank going back towards wings level to end the maneuver
  • (4/4) You’re back to wings and pitch level, at the same airspeed and altitude you started at……(yeah right, not if it’s your first go at this maneuver, you’ll probably be higher or lower than your starting point)
  • Now do it again rolling right into the next maneuver going the other way.
  • Let’s talk some troubleshooting tips now on perfecting the Lazy Eights!


  • Altitude higher or lower than you started (adjust the power setting prior to starting the maneuver, don’t play with the power during the maneuver)
  • Airspeed higher or lower than you started (same as above, having too much power set to begin with will leave you higher or faster than you started)
  • Don’t get excited on the second maneuver going the other direction.  Students often are controlled in the first 180 degree turn, and then get excited and roll (bank) too quickly starting the next turn the opposite direction.

Common Errors

  • Not staying coordinated with rudder
  • Using too much power to start the maneuver, or not starting the maneuver when stabilized with airspeed and altitude
  • Using too much aileron and not being lazy enough with the rate of roll (bank)
  • not using enough pitch to get the airplane slow at the halfway point
  • waiting too long before starting the second 180 degree turn in the opposite direction
  • trying to adjust power during the maneuver

Completion Standards for Lazy Eights

  • Select an altitude allowing for recovery at or above 1,500′ agl
  • Heading +/- 10 degrees (at the end of each 180 degree turn)
  • Airspeed +/- 10 knots (at the end of each 180 degree turn)
  • Altitude +/- 100′ (at the end of each 180 degree turn)
  • Constantly changing bank, and pitch (never stop flying the airplane in all three axis!)
  • Continue maneuver through the number of specified loops, then resume straight and level flight.